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Kenya retains more aged staff as skills dearth crisis persists

PSC chairperson Margaret Kobia. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Up to 1,707 government employees in managerial and technical positions are past the retirement age of 60 but have been retained due to a skills shortage that has hampered their replacement.

A public service report released last week indicates that retained workers who are aged above 61 account for 0.57 per cent of the government workforce, excluding Teachers Service Commission staff and those in State agencies.

The aged workforce adds to about 1,707 based on the total 299,500 workers in county governments and those in ministries.

The old blood retention has been blamed on lack of a mentoring programme in public service for junior staff to succeed their seniors in executive roles.

“The challenge of ageing workforce has partly been addressed through retention in service beyond the mandatory retirement age to provide more time to mentor successors or recruit replacement, employment on contract terms and recruitment in critical areas among others,” says the report.

It says 35 per cent of civil servants are set to retire in the next decade, most of whom are in senior management and technical cadres with critical skills and competencies.

This has cast fears of a skills shortage crisis in top positions alongside a pension headache to private sector workers who pay for the upkeep of retired civil servants.

The skills gap has now prompted the government to move towards introducing a management trainee plan next year to fast-track graduates into executive roles, trigger promotions and review a blanket ban on fresh hiring to ease effects of the ageing workforce.

“The majority of employees in management positions (Job Group P and above) are over 46 years,” states the report.

Only 19 per cent of the civil servants are aged 19-35. Another 13.9 per cent are aged 36-40 while 14 per cent of them are aged between 41 and 45.

The huge number of civil servants nearing retirement age means the Treasury will have to set aside billions of shillings as pension costs for exiting workers who do not contribute for their nest eggs.

Estimates from the Treasury show that the annual pension bill will hit Sh55.6 billion in the current financial year ending June and will rise to Sh71.8 billion in the year ended June 2018, making it one the largest budget items. The bill has risen from Sh15 billion in 2002.



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